Let me start out this week by saying that very little surprises me in the world of new releases. The amount of advance research and preparation that goes into this column on a weekly basis is considerable, and because of it, I not only know what is coming out each week, but also what is in store for the next three to four weeks. Well, color me surprised, because for the first time in over six years, a band has managed to catch me off-guard with a new release that I was unaware of until the day before it came out. Well played.
Avenged Sevenfold, The Stage (Capitol)
The Internet went crazy yesterday when hints started to appear that Avenged Sevenfold’s new album could appear out of nowhere today, and that is exactly what happened. The surprise release is not the only unexpected thing about this album, though, as The Stage represents Avenged Sevenfold’s first foray into the world of concept albums. The central theme of artificial intelligence plays well into the album’s structure, which features many longer-than-usual songs and experimental overtones throughout.
Testament, Brotherhood of the Snake (Nuclear Blast)
While Testament may take a longer time than most between albums, the wait is always worth it. Brotherhood of the Snake is no different, as the album is already receiving glowing reviews from critics. The album contains a much higher thrash quotient than what has been expected from recent Testament albums, but this is by no means a bad thing. This album also marks Steve DiGiorgio’s return for a second stint on bass. replacing Greg Christian after his departure in 2014.
Crowbar, The Serpent Only Lies (eOne)
Album number eleven sees the return of a familiar face, as founding bassist Todd “Sexy T” Strange returns to the band for the first time since his departure in 2000. Strange replaces former bassist Jeff Golden, who was fired from the band earlier this year. The Serpent Only Lies continues the formula laid down on Symmetry in Black, which was hailed as one of the best releases of the year when it was released in 2014.
Serpentine Dominion, Serpentine Dominion (Metal Blade)
A union between Killswitch Engage, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Cannibal Corpse does not look good on paper, but in execution, it is a masterwork of music. Serpentine Dominion brings together KSE’s Adam Dutkiewicz, former Black Dahlia drummer Shannon Lucas, and Cannibal Corpse’s legendary vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher to create a death metal record that has a highly unique sound and intense, thought-provoking lyrics (ghostwritten by KSE’s Jesse Leach, no less).
Memphis May Fire, This Light I Hold (Rise)
Memphis May Fire has been in a strong groove since 2012’s Challenger, continually placing themselves at the top of the metalcore/post-hardcore landscape with each new release. The band took a significant break from the road to write and record their new album, spending much of 2016 working on This Light I Hold. The album features guest vocal spots from Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix and ex-My American Heart vocalist Larry Soliman.
Upon a Burning Body, Straight from the Barrio (Sumerian)
Upon a Burning Body opted to forego the publicity stunts for the release of their fourth album, keeping in line with last year’s proclamation from vocalist Danny Leal that he was cleaning up his act. Straight from the Barrio is a strong follow-up to The World is My Enemy Now, building on the musical foundation of the older album while delving into more personal lyrical topics. The entire album is available to stream here.
Saxon, Let Me Feel Your Power (UDR)
Next year marks the fourth decade of Saxon’s existence, an impressive feat for any band in the current industry climate. Equally impressive is the fact that Saxon consistently amass enough live material to release a live album every few years. Let Me Feel Your Power will be the tenth live album of their career, and it compiles performances from Munich, Brighton, and Chicago into a two-disc collection. The third disc contains video footage of the Chicago performance as well.
Anaal Nathrakh, The Whole of the Law (Metal Blade)
If there’s one constant to Anaal Nathrakh, it’s that the British two-piece group are going to create exactly the kind of metal that gives most mainstream folk nightmares about metal. The grindcore-infused blackened death metal that suffuses The Whole of the Law has the vicious, destructive power that most bands can only dream of, and Anaal Nathrakh’s “fuck it, let’s do it” attitude about trying different things makes this album a wild ride from start to finish.
Dope, Blood Money Part 1 (eOne)
Blood Money sees the “classic lineup” of Dope – Edsel Dope, Acey Slade, Virus, and Racci Shay – reuniting for the first time since 2001. Blood Money has been in the works for the better part of three years, with so much material being produced that it was necessary to split it into a two-part album. Loudwire debuted the video for the title track over the summer, all but confirming that Dope’s sixth and seventh albums will be heavily political affairs.
Car Bomb, Meta (Solid Grey)
Currently in the midst of an extensive tour with The Dillinger Escape Plan, New York-based experimental metal group Car Bomb are unleashing their third album, Meta, on the unsuspecting masses. Rhythmically schizophrenic, stylistically frenetic, and aurally assaultive, this record will turn you on your head and leave your brain spinning. The whole album is available to stream over at Revolver, if you feel so inclined to blow out your cerebellum today.
Whores, Gold (eOne)
When Whores hit the scene with the Clean EP in 2013, the noise rock group became an instant must-follow band for many. Influenced by the mid-90s catalog of Amphetamine Records and adding a healthy dose of sludge, Whores has a powerful and unique sound that has to be heard to be believed. Gold is the debut full-length from the Atlanta-based power trio, and they describe the creative process as “blasting feedback and pick slides in a sweaty, metal box.” Truly a recipe for success!
Ulcerate, Shrines of Paralysis (Relapse)
New Zealand technical death metal group Ulcerate is back with album number five. This group has unjustly flown under the radar for their entire career, despite being among the best at their craft. Few technical metal bands outside of Meshuggah can pull off the long, epic compositions that Ulcerate has mastered. Stream the whole album over at Metal Injection, and check the band out on their North American tour next month.